my first scene... again

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  • my first scene... again

    Hi all...

    as you probably remember, not long ago I posted the first scene of my screenplay for comments. I've begun an intensive rewrite [made it to page 38 today -- yay], so I thought I'd toss the revised scene up here and see what you all think.



    FADE IN:

    EXT. CHICAGO -- DAY

    Morning rush. A SHINY SPORTS CAR weaves expertly through the traffic and darts into a space right in front of the CHICAGO EXAMINER BUILDING, cutting off another driver.

    SUSAN CAMPBELL (late 30s; crisp, contemporary dress) gets out of the car and walks briskly into the building, talking animatedly on a cell phone.

    SUSAN
    It's a puff piece! Get a freelancer.

    INT. OFFICE -- DAY

    CHRIS, Susan's hostile, chain-smoking editor, sits with her feet propped on her desk. Intercut with previous scene.

    CHRIS
    No, I need you.

    INT. LOBBY
    Susan marches through the lobby towards the elevators.

    SUSAN
    It's the county fair. I'm an investigative journalist.

    CHRIS
    And we need you to investigate.

    SUSAN
    What, is the dunking booth rigged?

    Susan spots ARTHUR HAMPTON (early 30s), a photographer -- grabs him by the arm, nearly knocking him over, and drags him into the

    ELEVATOR

    as she talks. He rolls his eyes.

    ARTHUR
    What now?

    CHRIS
    There's a property Hammond Communications is thinking of acquiring and they need someone to go out there and see how much it's worth.

    SUSAN
    Why me?

    CHRIS
    Like you said, you're an "investigative journalist". You know how to sneak around. The owner doesn't seem to want to sell, we're hoping we can change his mind. But we need inside information on how to do that.

    SUSAN
    So you want me to find out how you can manipulate this poor sucker into selling his paper?

    CHRIS
    In a word, yes.

    SUSAN
    What's in it for me?

    CHRIS
    You know that promotion you want so badly?

    SUSAN
    You mean, the one you screwed me out of?

    CHRIS
    Get the story, get the information, get a promotion.

    SUSAN
    (sighs)
    Can I take Arthur with me?

    ARTHUR
    Oh, God.

    SUSAN
    (covers phone with hand)
    Ever hear of Greensboro Illinois?

    ARTHUR
    No, why?

    CHRIS
    Yes, you can take Arthur.

    SUSAN
    (to Arthur)
    Well, you're going to.

    The elevator stops; the doors open. Susan marches into the

    HALLWAY

    with Arthur close behind.

    SUSAN
    (into phone)
    I assume you have a file on this supposed county fair story?

    She walks through a door marked CHRIS BALLANTINE, FEATURES EDITOR and breezes past the secretary's desk. BILL, the secretary, hands her a file as she passes. Arthur follows.

    CHRIS
    Yes, everything you need…

    Susan bursts through the door to Chris's inner office, snapping her cell phone shut.

    SUSAN
    You've got a deal.

  • #2
    on the whole it reads very favourably. but avoid corny bits and pieces like: get this, and you'll get a promotion. it's out of susan's character because:

    she already does not seem like someone who would get screwed out of a promotion. she would do the screwing. not the other way around. she's a mover and shaker. screw her out of a promotion and there'd be a ton of other places she could work at.

    you could, however, dangle the bait as such:

    CHRIS
    Do you want to make Creative Director?

    Susan bites her lip. She does.

    SUSAN
    (beat)
    Arthur's coming.

    obviously this is a play of power of some sort. susan vs boss, boss vs susan. that's the energy and chemistry of your scene. and the dynamics of the relationship between someone who's probably an ace journalist but a bit of a maverick, vs a boss who can hardly keep a lid on her, but knows she's got the goods.

    as for "you got a deal". again, that's kind of unreal for this situation. not sure real people actually talk like this, at least people in those shoes.

    ...snapping her cell phone shut.

    SUSAN
    I want that offer in writing before I go anywhere.

    again, power play.

    Comment


    • #3
      Here's my two cents:

      "Morning rush. A SHINY SPORTS CAR weaves expertly through the traffic and darts into a space right in front of the CHICAGO EXAMINER BUILDING, cutting off another driver."

      I'd change to :

      A Red Lexus weaves expertly through traffic, skids in front of the CHICAGO EXAMINER BUILDING, cutting off another car.

      **The kind of car reflects the individual (BMW Roadster, Hummer, candy apple red '65 Mustang). The "k" is skids picks up the "c" in Chicago. "Car" instead of driver picks up the "c" in cutting (it's the little things that can make a difference).

      "gets out of the car and walks briskly into the building, talking animatedly on a cell phone"

      **This doesn't quite work? How about.. Out of the car, Susan walks briskly into the building. Is it necessary to state she speaks "animatedly" into phone? Also, how about telling us a little bit more about her here at this point? Is she tall, short, good-looking, redheaded.. I just got her age and dress.


      "INT. OFFICE -- DAY" to
      INT. OFFICE -- CONTINUOUS

      "He rolls his eyes." -- omit

      "SUSAN
      (sighs)
      Can I take Arthur with me?"

      **Instead of asking a question, state what she wants if she is truly a powerful woman.

      SUSAN
      I want Arthur.

      **

      Hope that helps!
      Charli

      Comment


      • #4
        i have to disagree with a couple of things here:

        - nobody SKIDS into a parking spot. it's melodramatic, cliche, unreal, and not to mention all new cars come with ABS which stops that kind of thing. (i'll agree with saying what kind of car it is, though). stealing someone else's lot though, is a pretty good indication of what kind of person your character is. so keep that, for sure.

        don't get caught up in physical descriptions like hair colour or height or beauty. leave that open. you can say something more ambiguous that can say more about her, like how she's dressed (which you did) and if she's cool and confident or animated and flamboyant. i wouldn't go much farther than that.

        these aren't details that make or break your scene or character. as in. you can overlook these here and there if you pay attention to your character development and how you pace your story.

        Comment


        • #5
          I think it's a good scene. the only thing that confused me is where you said "intercut with previous scene." Isn't it the current scene (the cell phone conversation) that's being intercut?

          Comment


          • #6
            promotions of reporter

            If your character is truly that good of an investigative reporter, that's her job. There is no other "promotion" other than moving to a larger paper, maybe getting a real "office" other than a cubical, or more money, or a better vacation deal, something like that. No real reporter would aspire to be anything but that. There's no adrenaline rush any place else.

            Trust me. This is what I do.

            Comment


            • #7
              Verb - Listen to Strangemind, he has solid advice.

              Charli

              Comment


              • #8
                verb - listen to LLL. sounds like she has it right.

                unless you say -- "would you like to anchor?" or something. she sounds reluctant to go on this "bullshit" assignment. sounds like she's used to frying bigger fish. however, i'm guessing that this greensboro thing turns into something bigger. and so you have to hook her into going, and then what starts off as a rookie assignment soon turns into her biggest thing yet.

                unless i'm off base. and reading you wrong.

                thanks st.rogue -- wasn't trying to go over you there. hope i wasn't out of line.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Strange - I prefer that you point out errors so that the individual gets the right info. You were right. No hard feelings here. I prefer people to just be frank. By the way, your scenes on the SF thing made me laugh!

                  Charli

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Another thing...

                    Newspaper reporters (no matter how good) do not make the type of money that network anchors make. She more than likely does not drive (read: cannot afford) a sports car. It's also impractical for the job. She won't be making a penny more than $45k, yes, even in Chicago. Depending on the area (we drive 4x4s where I'm located) she more than likely drives a modest and reliable Honda or Ford.

                    Most of us don't dress very stylishly...one minute we're working on a story about sewers, the next we're tromping through mud, then we go to city hall. Somewhere in the middle, but not stylish. We don't show up at train accidents in mini-skirts and high heels a la Julia Roberts in "I Love Trouble."

                    Also, in most newsrooms, as in most businesses/offices these days, there isn't any smoking allowed. The chain-smoking editor has been replaced by a guy in a suit who is more concerned about the bottom line than a byline. Funny, though, they still call him an "editor."

                    LLL (OK, a bit jaded)

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      lead character

                      just a thought, but..

                      I found it a little unclear who the 'audiences character' is for the first little bit because you right away jump to an intercutting between two people.

                      it does become clear after a short time.. but i found the first little bit unclear.

                      you have a city, a car, and then two people talking. perhaps if you through in a scene of her talking in the car before she parks it will be a little more obvious who the audience is supposed to sympathise with.

                      mabey something like...

                      FADE IN:

                      EXT. CHICAGO -- DAY

                      Morning rush. A SHINY SPORTS CAR weaves expertly through the traffic.

                      SUSAN CAMPBELL (late 30s; crisp, contemporary dress) helms the car while talking animatedly on a cell phone.

                      SUSAN
                      It's a puff piece! Get a freelancer.

                      Spotting an opening she spits into the phone.

                      SUSAN (Cont'd)
                      Hold on one sec, Kay?

                      She darts into a space right in front of the CHICAGO EXAMINER BUILDING, cutting off another driver.

                      Getting out of the car and heading briskly into the building, she retuns to her conversation.

                      SUSAN
                      Your goinna to have to get someone else.

                      INT. OFFICE -- DAY

                      CHRIS, Susan's hostile, chain-smoking editor, sits with her feet propped on her desk. Intercut with previous scene.

                      CHRIS
                      No, I need you.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: lead character

                        it's pretty clear to me, who the main character or protagonist is -- i assume that's what you mean when you say "audiences character".

                        the problem with your suggestion is that the resort is to use "delay tactics" to make the protagonist clear. things like "hold on a sec, ok?" have no purpose in that scene. and every bit of dialogue needs to show character and forward the plot.; not used as a device to make it clear to the audience who the protagonist is. that's done with action and description. and through the mechanics of the scene, verbal's done her job.

                        i'd go with steve's issue with "intercut with previous scene", though. i think you'll do better just saying BEGIN INTERCUT or INTERCUT between Susan and Chris.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: lead character

                          I agree with Steve & Strange--it's a good, clear scene. Have her be a little more assertive--

                          "I'm taking Arthur"...

                          It's a negotiation. A little give & take.

                          She can have an angle on a promotion--Assistant Editor or Editor, perhaps taking over her boss' job as she is moves up. Then they both have a stake in Susan succeeding--the stakes are raised, there's genuine conflict between the two.

                          Use exposition to let us know what's in it for Susan: Show, don't tell. Maybe Susan doesn't ask Chris 'what's in it for me?' until they're face to face.
                          _______
                          Susan storms into Chris' office:

                          Susan
                          What's in it for me?

                          Chris reaches into her desk drawer, takes out a nameplate with Susan's name & 'Editor' on it.

                          Susan's jaw drops, her tongue almost out. She's in.
                          __________

                          What LLL said about dress is true as well, BUT:

                          Maybe Susan anticipated the earlier promotion, and began living beyond her means. Leased a new car, maxed out her credit cards on a new wardrobe, etc. She's in dire straits financially, desperately needs the promotion and boost in income. All the more reason to take the assignment.

                          Nice start. I'd keep reading.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            reporters don't become editors (if they are good)

                            That last idea, about promoting the investigative reporter (as the carrot to dangle) to editor or whatever, won't fly. Reporters don't grow up to be editors. They grow up to be better reporters. Copy editors move up to be assistant editors, then managing editors. No real reporter, no good reporter wants to spend the rest of their lives rewriting other reporters' stories that they know they could do better. If she's THAT good, she wants something more and for most of us, that's money. Green. Or an office, that would be nice. Getting out of the bullpen is always a perk, but then some of us like the bullpen (noise, you learn to thrive on it).

                            I know this is the movies and they don't have to be realistic, but this is like telling the race car driver you'll be promoting him to head mechanic.

                            LLL

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: reporters don't become editors (if they are go

                              or. or. like telling a fighter pilot he'll be promoted to tower control!

                              or. like telling the manager at mcdonald's he'll be promoted to being in charge of the french fries!!!

                              (sorry, i am taking a writing break from rewrite city and felt like fun)

                              Comment

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